I wrote this post on New Year’s Day and while I don’t usually put spoilers in my posts I’m warning you right now. Do not read this post if you intend to play the game ‘Undertale’. What is Undertale? A roleplaying game that takes about 10-20 hours to complete to its full capacity. I’ll mention Star Wars a few times in it, but you’re safe with that. Nothing I say will be any more revealing than the trailers, so your mileage may vary.
Now with the obligatory warning, let me go on with my tale.
Remember that part where I said, this tale doesn’t end well? Well, I’ve only scraped the top of the misery bucket. To quote a sappy musical number from ‘Damn Yankees’ “A man doesn’t know what he has until he loses it.”
From the moment I started the game, I told myself a simple mantra: No Killing. This time, I played dumb with Flowey’s ‘friendship pellets’ and Toriel saving me felt more genuine. This time, I listened to Toriel’s advice to strike up conversation with the dummy. It failed miserably (cause you know… dummies can’t talk) but I faced my first encounter with a monster with patience and understanding. I also told her preferred cinnamon to butterscotch, a question I’d all but blown off in my last play-through.
It made sense to talk things out civilly, and when I did I learned the monsters I’d been slaughtering had quirks and motivations just like me. More than that, the Protagonist viewed the world with humor and wonder. I felt like I was playing a completely different game. Save points didn’t tell me how many monsters were left to slaughter, they gave me a little tidbit of humor to keep me determined through different means.
There were clear differences between this and my ‘Genocide’ run. I spied a spider bake sale I hadn’t noticed before, giving me some much-needed healing items. I met a bashful ghost named Napstablook I hadn’t even caught the wind of in my first play through (he probably fled when he heard of my rampage through the ruins). Because of him, I realized the monsters weren’t exactly trying to kill me so much as underestimating what hurts me and what doesn’t. Sort of like an RPG full of Lennies from Mice and Men. After negotiating with them, their moved improved and I could ‘spare’ them.
I met up with Toriel at her house and the tone was much better. I was happy to hear her talk about snails this time and the awkward caution she used to talk with me.
She gave me a slice of Cinnamon-Butterscotch pie, this time I kept it not because I needed an item, but I genuinely appreciated the sentiment.
Yet somethings still played out the same. She still threatened to destroy the gate to the underground and I still felt obligated to stop her. She would only let me leave if I proved my strength. I couldn’t stop the wheel of fate from turning and ended up facing her in combat.
I was scared, not for losing, but for winning. I didn’t want to kill her in one brutal slash. I wasn’t going to kill. I tried to do what she told me, tried to talk things out but she gave me the cold shoulder attacking with fierce fire magic.
But I also noticed that after hurting me a bit, Toriel’s magic veered away. She didn’t want to hurt me, but she also didn’t want me to leave.
So I stuck to my guns, sparing her over and over the same way I did with the monsters of the ruins. Eventually, she cracked and let me through… no blood was spilled and I’d stepped into Snowdin without killing anyone or anything.
Sans’ greeting struck me as sinister this time around, despite the fact he still pulled the same whoopee cushion in the hand gag. The air of tension vanished with a fake fart.
He told me to hide behind a conveniently shaped lamp. Covering for me so his brother Papyrus couldn’t find and capture me. Hiding behind the lamp, I got to see his reasons first hand, his dream of being in the royal guard.
I met the head of the guard before, in another life… but I digress.
The trek through Snowdin was amazingly fun. The puzzles were active and fun, the ‘voice’ of the Protagonist came to life and I realized looking at even the simplest of things yielded witty dialogue. Snow dodecahedrons, heh.
I found the guard dogs had a weakness for pets and even took one to a place no dog has been before.
Snowdin village was full of life and friendly monsters, the first that didn’t attack me on sight and I saw Grilby’s a little bar and grill full of the monsters I’d spared. It was a nice touch.
Along the way Papyrus stood in my way like a lovable villain, more like a rival and at the end of Snowdin he stood before me, torn between his dreams of capturing me and becoming a Royal Guard and the silly bond we’d made through the area. Empowered by my victory over Toriel, I told myself I wouldn’t attack him.
Papyrus wasn’t weak, he never was. In fact he had some tricky tricks up his sleeve that reminded me of my fight with Sans. None of it was particularly hard, but it made me spot the similarities between him and his brother.
Eventually, he spared me without much effort on my part. I had the tiniest bit of dread considering what happened when sans spared me, but I did it anyway. Everything turned out fine and better yet, I’d made my first ‘friend’ in the underground.